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Alexeyeva calls for solidarity with political refugees in Prague

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Prague, Sept 30 (CTK) – Russian human rights advocate Lyudmila Alexeyeva, 88, called for solidarity with people fleeing from war at the conference “A Refugee’s Story: the Europe of Dreams and Reality” in Prague yesterday.
She said Europe should not follow the example of Russia which did accept 10 to 15 million immigrants from former Soviet republics after the Soviet Union fell apart, but only about 1000 of them have the official refugee status.
Alexeyeva was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Monday.
In his speech at the close of the conference, Czech conservative opposition TOP 09 chairman and former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the most important thing [for people] is to overcome fear.
“We have to explain to our neighbours, our relatives that it is meaningless to be afraid,” Schwarzenberg said, adding that many politicians foment fear, which they subsequently use to score political points.
“In Germany in the 1930s, a majority [of the population] became attached to the leader who would remedy everything, because they were afraid of future, unemployment,” Schwarzenberg said.
He praised the choice of the winner of the 2015 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the Prague-seated Vaclav Havel Library.
“I’ve known Ms Alexeyeva for 30 years. She is a noteworthy woman who has not allowed herself to be deterred,” Schwarzenberg added.
The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize is named after the late leading Czechoslovak dissident and first post-communist President Havel (1936-2011). It is awarded by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Vaclav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation.
Alexeyeva highlighted the legacy of the late Russian human rights fighter Andrei Sakharov and Havel, both of whom she knew personally. She said “such people are not born in every period and in every country.”
Alexeyeva, winner of the Sakharov Prize of 2009, called for the struggle for human rights observance and for democracy not to abate. She said democracy will also work in Russia one day in the future, not to abate.
Alexeyeva, a native of Crimea, negatively commented on Crimea being now under Russian rule, also because money that would be needed in other regions is being sent there.
Asked what brought her to the human rights fight, she remembered the end of World War Two and the bravery of the Russian nation.
“I did not understand that it is possible to humiliate people who were courageously defending their homeland,” Alexeyeva said.
She said she expected the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 to be followed by freedom. “Then came the year 1968 when our soldiers invaded Czechoslovakia. It was a tragedy for you, but for us, too,” Alexeyeva said.

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